Sun, Jun 11, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Brazil’s Temer wins at tribunal

ODDS IMPROVE:Eurasia Group said the president’s chances of being toppled before the end of his term dropped, despite lingering allegations of corruption

AFP, BRASILIA

Brazilian President Michel Temer attends a ceremony in Brasilia on Friday.

Photo: AP

Brazilian President Michel Temer defied predictions of his imminent political demise when a court acquitted him on charges of having won his post thanks to dirty money.

After Friday’s vote in the Brazilian Supreme Electoral Tribunal he went on the offensive in his battle to survive additional corruption accusations.

Despite being branded by opponents a political “zombie” and likened to characters from The Walking Dead television series, the scandal-plagued president’s acquittal in the tribunal showed he still has plenty of political life.

The judges voted 4-3 against stripping Temer of his mandate on the grounds that the 2014 presidential election was contaminated by undeclared campaign donations and bribes.

That cleared him to serve out the rest of his term to the end of next year.

Dissenting judges painted a grim picture of the way Brazilian corporations seek to buy politicians in Latin America’s biggest country.

However, with the panel drawn at 3-3, tribunal president Gilmar Mendes cast the deciding vote, urging cool heads at a time of national turmoil.

“You don’t switch the president of the republic every hour,” Mendes said. “There are serious proven facts, but not enough to annul the mandate.”

That spared recession-ravaged Brazil being plunged into its second leadership crisis in 14 months, following the impeachment of former Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff last year and her replacement by her then-vice president Temer.

It also backed up Temer’s strategy of arguing that corruption accusations against him are a dangerous distraction when he is needed to put Brazil back on the economic rails.

Eurasia Group consultants said Temer’s chances of being toppled before the end of his term have now dropped from 60 percent to 30 percent.

“We underappreciated the ability of the presidential palace to weave a narrative that Temer’s permanence in office represented the best bet for institutional and economic stability until the 2018 elections,” Eurasia Group said.

Temer was clearly invigorated, greeting the victory as “a sign that the national institutions continue to guarantee the smooth functioning of Brazilian democracy,” his spokesman said.

However, the decision dismayed those pushing for Brazil to face up to its massive corruption problems.

“No democracy can come out unharmed from the institutional free-for-all that Brazil is going through,” Rio State University political scientist Mauricio Santoro said, criticizing “the degradation of the rules and of public life.”

Opponents have another chance to bring down Temer.

Brazilian Prosecutor General Rodrigo Janot alleges that Temer agreed to payments of hush money to Eduardo Cunha, former speaker of the lower house of the Brazilian Congress, who is in prison for corruption.

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